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The Hooligan's Return

Breaks fiends Atomic Hooligan are back with a bold, hip-hop heavy, rock swaggered LP and boy do they mean business!

After smashing it with their genre-mocking, rock heavy 2005 LP 'We Are Are', Matt Welch and Terry Ryan have come out all guns blazing with their imminent 'Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah' LP – due to drop on Botchit & Scarper late March. Bolting their boisterous breaks swagger to filthy electro-pop rudeness, hip-hop rawness and indie energy, it's a vocal heavy album that lurches right out of the breakbeat pigeon-holes and blends a floor working funk power with depth, drive and dynamics. As they limber up for their headlining live performance at the seventh international Breakspoll Awards we caught up with Hooligan Terry Ryan for some blah blah blah on the album, the class of their vocal collaborators and the state of breaks…

First of all what's the deal with the LP's title 'Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah'? Is there a specific meaning to it?

"You can translate it loads of ways but I'm just fed up of these DJs who wanna be rock stars. Not just DJs, everyone wants to be a fake celebrity. I don't care about the 'sex, drugs and rock n' roll' bullshit' it's all just 'blah blah blah' to me so lets just get on with the music."

Musically, then, how have things progressed from 'We Are Here' to this imminent LP?

"It's a logical progression from the last one but a lot more hip hop influenced. We've got a long time DJ Premier collaborator Afu-Ra guesting – he was part of the original Gang Starr Foundation. It's still quite rocky and at the same time, things are very musical as we've got a whole string section directed by the same girl that has done strings for The Gorillaz and Roots ManuvaJote Sahn. She's brought a whole new musical dynamic and depth to the album, there's a brass section in there as well, it's just a lot deeper than the last."

Who else have you called upon to collaborate?

"Yeah well we've got a new guy called Genesis Elijah. He's quite a well known upcoming hip-hop MC and has guested on a track called 'Spread Good Vibes' which is like an uptempo electro hip-hop track with a really pacey bassline. Justine Berry is back and singing on certain tracks and another guy called Elmo Jones has joined up and sings on the new single 'I Don't Care' amongst others."

What sort of style does he bring to the table?

"A kind of swaggery indie style that just rocks. It's a very current kind of sound, he's a traditional rock 'n' roll singer but he's translated so well to what we do. I wouldn't want to compare him to anybody but if I did... Ian Brown with a better voice basically!"

You're performing at the seventh Breakspoll Awards with all the vocalists appearing on stage alongside you. Wouldn't it be easier to just stand in front of a pair of keyboards and let backing tracks supply the recorded promos as – say – most well known dance acts habitually do?

"I don't want to slag anybody off but we do things in the way that live music is supposed to be heard – real vocals sung live, real instruments, not just one man and back tracked vocalists. We do actually bring in the vocalists for our live performances."

There's a lot of lip service paid to the fact that breakbeat isn't quite rockin it like it used to. From your perspective, is the scene losing fans?

"On a worldwide scale of course it isn't – it's gaining them. Myself and a whole host of breakbeat DJs travel across the world and do our thing every weekend. You've got to remember that the London scene is so unique because it's always so focused on bringing in new artists and creating new genres. One month it's electroclash, the next its minimal, the next its something else... sometimes it disappears up its own ass."

Is this diversity always a bad thing?

"Nah, the good thing about this is that you get exposed to so much music and there's always so many influences to integrate into breakbeat. Breakbeat is core music, it will always be there and it has always been there."

A lot of people in the breaks community are digging the crunchy funk Ed Banger inspired sound – is this something that has influenced you over the past 18 months?

"It's a cool sound but it's not something that makes me think 'fuck me I need to make all my music sound more like this'. Which is a trap a lot of people are falling into. I don't mean to dis anyone but I think it's a very trendy sound to say you are into. You get a lot of people that say 'yeah I'm into the Ed Banger sound' but all they've really heard is a few Justice singles."

What sort of influences and sounds have you been digging most lately?

"We've been getting more hip hop influenced and people like J Dilla have really been inspiring us. The amount of amazing back cat stuff that has come out since his death has really influenced us. Good quality rock continues to be an influence as it always has."

Who on the breakbeat side of thing is really rocking it for you right now?

T"o be honest, it's someone that is on my label Rico Tubbs. He's not new to breaks, he's been around for a while but he's really upgraded his sound and stepped up his game lately so I snapped him up. His latest stuff is amazing, mate he's so fresh and upfront it's unreal. I've just got an album off him to release so watch out. "

What sort of sound does he flex?

"It's bassline breakbeat but with a real Baltimore influence, there's electro sounds and a bit of a rave edge to it too. That's the thing about breakbeat, for people that are pushing it forward it's just a byword for eclecticism. Rogue Element when he releases stuff still does it for me but there's a whole heap of people still doing it for me out there."

So will you be getting stuck into the Breakspoll mayhem once your live performance is taken care of?

"Of course. My girlfriend went out and bought a nice jacket for me to wear on the night so I'm going to get a bit messy in a classy way this year. Dress up, look nice and smart but still end up fucked off my ass on the floor of Fabric come four in the morning!"

What sort of state do you normally end up after Breakspoll?

"Fucked off my ass in a t shirt and jeans."

Anything else to say?

"Yeah go out and buy 'I Don't Care' when it drops. We've a tearing breaks remix Ctrl Z Vs Pyramid then we've got a Tomcraft remix as well. He's just basically turned it into a proper bassline techno rocket. I just love his sound, it's real dirty bassline shit that you could imagine pounding out of a skuzzy Berlin techno dungeon."